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Viduthalai Part 1

Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
5 Star popcorn reviewss


Onto the final release of the weekend and I did keep the best for the last! With that I finished watching the new Tamil film Viduthalai – Part 1 which is directed by Vetri Maaran. If you are familiar with the filmography of Vetri then you will know what a great director he is. Known to make gritty films like Asuran and Vada Chennai, the one masterpiece that he had presented in 2015 was the hard-hitting film Visaranai.

Visaranai was my first Vetri Maaran film that introduced me to his all out filmography style and I was absolutely blown over by it. I remember coming out of it numb, not havimg recovered from the police brutality scenes that not only did make my heart ache but also left me shell shocked. And later on, after watching Vada Chennai and Asuran(during the lockdown), I knew Vetri was the best director that we had in our country! His ability to address socio-political dramas, often challenging the establishment is what made him unique. Not many filmmakers have the guts to do that, and effectively so! So when his new movie Viduthalai – Part 1 was out, I just had to venture in the theatre, thus becoming only the 2nd Tamil film to be watched in a theatre in its original language with English Subtitles. So then does Viduthalai – Part 1 manage to impress, lets find out.

Story & Screenplay

Viduthalai – Part 1 follows the story of a new police recruit who finds himself in the turmoil between his own men and the People’s Army which is dedicated to fight against the authorities. This is only the first of the two part film but the story here is just so brilliant with a typical Vetri Maaran trademark of going all out, that it shall leave you numb by the end of it. It is almost like 1000 bricks flung at you and they hit you exactly where it would hurt the most. The screenplay standing at 150 minutes does make for a brilliantly compelling drama like no other. In fact, I would stick my neck out and say that this was a pure masterclass in screenplay writing!

The drama opens with a 10 minute one-take sequence that was probably the best opening sequence ever for an Indian film! That sequence will potentially scar you and leave you pondering about it even after the film has ended, it was that powerful! And it also sets the ball rolling for the things to come. The ability of the writers to construct a socio-political drama was a sight in itself, something that needed to be cherished and studied. So you are introduced to the protagonist who is a newly recruited police personnel, stationed in the most challenging terrain with the People’s Army on the outskirts of that area. This in itself was a great premise wherein the writers do successfully establish the lurking danger of the area besides its location.

The proceedings are engaging and engrossing to the point that I did not even once check my watch during the film. The drama is a fascinating character study too with respect to the protagonist. He is shown to be an idealist, almost going out of his way to help the locals even if that means that he has to defy the orders of his superiors. And it is here that the plight of the police personnel are showcased so well. At times, a part of you does feel sorry for their state of affairs where even the basic commodities are negligible. The discussion with respect to the conflict is tilted towards the authorities in the first hour that also features a budding love story between the protagonist and one of the locals. The scene involving him eating food prepared by the local girl did formulate for a beautiful scene in itself. But the tender moments are short-lived as the drama switches gears soon!

Viduthalai – Part 1 is probably the most disturbing and uncomfortable film that I have watched recently. The makers do not hold back in showing gore or nudity(censored) and absolutely go all out! The politics of the land does tilt the discussion towards the People’s Army in the second hour with an interesting back story presented through different perspectives that makes you ponder on which side is actually guilty and whether both are wrong and in the process middle men have to suffer.

But what really makes you uncomfortable to the point of you looking away was the police brutality scenes that will make you squirm in your seat. They are violent and layered with the tensions escalating in every scene. To give you a perspective, the torture begins with a group of men who are thrashed after being stripped off their clothes. But things do not end there! There are women brought in – some of them old and one pregnant. And they are made to strip and eventually thrashed to pulp. This scene was so powerful and disturbing that not only did it infuriate me but also left me numb. It was a recall of how I did feel in Visaranai, exactly that.

The events leading up to the final act(in Part 1) do make for a thrilling chase that was so well choreographed and executed that it did result in edge of the seat stuff. But a small setup for Part 2 does ensure that it would be even more layered with a proper deep dive into the socio-political situation following the incident that occured at the start of the film. You even get a glimpse of Part 2 and it does leave you with plenty of thoughts to ponder. Overall, this was a masterclass in screenplay writing if ever there was one!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are understated and almost conversational and they make for a striking impact. The music is good and the songs never stall the flow of the drama. The BGM is outstanding and compliments the drama really well. The cinematography is pitch perfect and that can be further understood by the phenomenal 10 minute one-take opening shot which was technically brilliant. Elsewhere, the police brutality scenes are shot brilliantly too. The editing is crisp and sharp. Director Vetri Maaran is back and in glorious form here. He is exceptional in his world building that does make for an intriguing watch in itself. And he does stamp his authority by not holding back in scenes of gore and blood. The drama ain’t for the faint hearted and by a margin!


The performances are brilliant across the board here. Rajiv Menon as Subramanyan has his moments to shine. Gautham Vasudev Menon as Sunil Menon is top notch and does a swell job. Chetan as the police superior is outstanding and he would infuriate you to no extent. Bhavani Sre as Tamilarasi looks pretty and is incredibly good at showcasing her vulnerability. It was a pleasure watching her onscreen and wish to watch more of her too.

Vijay Sethupathi is an absolute legend and to give you a perspective just witness his eyes here that tell a tale of a thousand splendid suns! As Perumal, he is exceptional in an extended cameo and I suspect that his character shall come alive in Part 2 with a solid back story. Soori, an actor who was previously restricted to comic roles(generally speaking), is a revelation here as Kumaresan. He is sincere, honest and earnest in his act that definitely makes his character affable making you want to root for him throughout. He had so many emotions to play with and this was probably one of the brilliant acts of the year for me!


Viduthalai – Part 1 is an infuriating masterpiece(something that I refrain from using more often) in every sense of the word in what is probably the best film of the year for me across languages. Do not miss this at any cost! Available in a theatre near you and Highly Highly Highly Recommended!

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